Crowdfunding for Film: What to Know Before You Start

April 28, 2014

Crowdfunding for Film: What to Know Before You StartCrowdfunding is a great way to both finance and garner attention for an independent film. However, projects are quickly saturating the crowdsourcing marketplace, so it’s important to be prepared and understand the basics before you throw your hat into the arena.

Is Crowdfunding Right for Your Project?

Crowdsourcing is not a one-size-fits-all solution for every film. There are many factors to consider before you can determine whether a funding campaign is right for your project. It’s important to understand that a successful campaign does not happen on its own – it requires a great deal of legwork to get the attention of prospective donors.

The first thing you should ask yourself is whether you have a strong social network presence. If you have a small pool of networks, you may want to consider expanding your influence before you launch a campaign. It’s not enough to have 1,000 Twitter followers. You need to also engage in a regular dialogue with your fans and friends so they will take an active interest in your film.

You also need to be sure your film or pitch is something that will garner interest. This may be your passion project, but will it hook an audience to fund it? This question can determine both the viability of your campaign and the film itself.

The Basics of Starting a Campaign

The first step in starting a crowdfunding campaign is deciding which platform to use. According to Indiewire, it is estimated that only 10 percent of campaigns funded on Indiegogo reach their goals, but closer to 40 percent meet their full funding goals on Kickstarter. This suggests that the latter reaches a bigger pool of donors. However, when you consider the fact that Kickstarter campaigns only get funded if they meet their goals, Indiegogo may be a better option since whatever you raise is yours in the end, even if you do not reach your goal. There are several smaller crowdfunding upstarts, such as Seed&Spark, that you may want to consider as well.

Before you post your project, you should have a plan of action in place for the duration of the campaign. Determine first who your likely supporters are and how you can go about targeting them. Whether you plan to use social networks or personal contacts to reach out, have some prewritten tweets, posts and emails ready before the campaign starts. If you plan on using videos as promotion, make sure you have those shot, edited and ready to go before you begin. You may want to consider finding a large contributor who is willing to help you make up the difference if you are coming down to the wire and haven’t quite met your goal. You also need to decide on the all-important perks or rewards that you will offer donors.

How to Become a Success

For every crowdsourced film success story such as “Veronica Mars,” which shattered records by raking in over $5 million on Kickstarter, there are thousands of other projects that don’t have star power. As more celebrities and already successful filmmakers are turning toward crowdsourcing to fund their films, it can be difficult to figure out how to make your project stand out against the likes of Zach Braff and Kristen Bell. One way to have a successful campaign is to tap into the audience that is passionate about the topic of your film. If you are shooting a documentary on global warming, for example, reach out to environmental organizations and bloggers for support. Another key to success is to tap into your marketing skills and get creative with perks. It isn’t enough to simply promise DVDs and T-shirts. Try to come up with unique ideas such as the Kickstarter-funded film “Dear White People,” which offered donors a Twitter shout-out for $10.

If you use crowdfunding wisely, it can not only be a great resource for financing but also help build an audience for your project so you end up with a successful film.

Photo credit: Flickr